“Some things are worth repeating,” the saying goes. And we at NFESH are in full accord with the sentiment it represents – whether what is being repeated are simply words or if they are far more than that. Annual celebrations, like individual birthdays or national ones (such as our last blog referenced), are healthy activities that can both bring us cheer and bring us together every time we repeat them.
It’s the “bringing together” that we want to consider briefly here. We doubt it will surprise readers when, as the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, we reiterate the important role that food, that meals, can play in enriching the time that we individuals spend together with family and friends. Fourth of July picnics, Thanksgiving dinners, birthdays, and cafeteria meals with colleagues.
As America continues to slowly “open up” again and return to what in pre-COVID days were our regular routines, one thing that we will be seeing and doing more of is getting together with friends, families, neighbors and peers around the same table at meal times. For many of our older citizens in America, the tables at congregate nutrition programs are like home; and the people gathered there are as close and precious as family. This is true across all geographies but is especially so in rural communities where the distance between neighbors can be measured in miles and not blocks. The personal distances, on the other hand, just don’t seem to exist. We have seen it first hand over the past decades and now we have heard it and had it confirmed by people we have never even met.
Over the course of the months that senior centers we have been shuttered, we have reached out to and surveyed thousands of seniors, asking them questions about whether or not they will return to senior centers and congregate nutrition programs once the sites in their communities open up again. The overwhelming consensus is an emphatic “yes.”
We are not surprised but we are delighted. As we noted, some things are worth repeating – like sitting down around the lunch table to enjoy a meal and to make or to recall a memory with friends. It’s about time.